Reggae (/ˈrɛɡeɪ/) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. ..While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. ….
It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. ..
reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.
…One of the most easily recognizable elements is offbeat rhythms; staccato chords played by a guitar or piano (or both) on the offbeats of the measure. The tempo of reggae is usually slower than ska but faster than rocksteady. The concept of “call and response” can be found throughout reggae music.
The genre of reggae music is led by the drum and bass.
The bass guitar often plays the dominant role in reggae. The bass sound in reggae is thick and heavy, and equalized so the upper frequencies are removed and the lower frequencies emphasized. The guitar in reggae usually plays on the off beat of the rhythm.
It is common for reggae to be sung in Jamaican Patois, Jamaican English, and Iyaric dialects. Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism and religion in its lyrics, although many reggae songs discuss lighter, more personal subjects, such as love and socializing.
.. Reggae in Africa was boosted by the visit of Bob Marley to Zimbabwe in 1980. In Jamaica, authentic reggae is one of the biggest sources of income.
Bob Marley is said to have claimed that the word reggae came from a Spanish term for “the king’s music”.
Rastafari entered some countries primarily through reggae music; thus, the movement in these places is more particularly stamped by its origins in reggae music and social milieu. The Rastafari movement was a significant influence on reggae, with Rasta drummers like Count Ossie taking part in seminal recordings. One of the predecessors of reggae drumming is the Nyabinghi rhythm, a style of ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian life.
..Ska is characterized by a quarter note walking bass line, guitar and piano offbeats, and a drum pattern with cross-stick snare and bass drum on the backbeat and open hi-hat on the offbeats (with nothing on beats one and three). It is also notable for its jazz-influenced horn riffs. Jamaica gained its independence in 1962, and ska became the music of choice for Jamaican youths seeking music that was their own.
..The “double skank” guitar strokes on the offbeat were also part of the new reggae style.
Early 1968 was when the first bona fide reggae records were released: “Nanny Goat” by Larry Marshall and “No More Heartaches” by The Beltones. That same year, the newest Jamaican sound began to spawn big-name imitators in other countries. American artist Johnny Nash’s 1968 hit “Hold Me Tight” has been credited with first putting reggae in the American listener charts. Around the same time, reggae influences were starting to surface in rock and pop music, one example being 1968’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by The Beatles.
The Wailers, a band started by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in 1963, is perhaps the most recognized band that made the transition through all three stages of early Jamaican popular music: ska, rocksteady and reggae. Over a dozen Wailers songs are based on or use a line from Jamaican mento songs.
Reggae is played in 4\4 time because the symmetrical rhythmic pattern does not lend itself to other time signatures such as 3\4. One of the most easily recognizable elements is offbeat rhythms; staccato chords played by a guitar or piano (or both) on the offbeats of the measure, often referred to as the skank
The bass guitar often plays the dominant role in reggae, and the drum and bass is often the most important part of what is called, in Jamaican music, a riddim (rhythm), a (usually simple) piece of music that’s used repeatedly by different artists to write and record songs with. Literally hundreds of reggae singers have released different songs recorded over the same rhythm. The central role of the bass can be particularly heard in dub music — which gives an even bigger role to the drum and bass line, reducing the vocals and other instruments to peripheral roles.
The bass sound in reggae is thick and heavy, and equalized so the upper frequencies are removed and the lower frequencies emphasized. The bass line is often a repeated two or four bar riff when simple chord progressions are used. The simplest example of this might be Robbie Shakespeare’s bass line for the Black Uhuru hit “Shine Eye Gal”. In the case of more complex harmonic structures, such as John Holt’s version of “Stranger In Love”, these simpler patterns are altered to follow the chord progression either by directly moving the pattern around or by changing some of the interior notes in the phrase to better support the chords.